Friday, August 7, 2020

Join the Free Kriegsspiel Revolution!





Guys! @Wizard Lizard and I have set up a new Discord server called "Free Kriegsspiel Revolution". This group is for all people interested in pre-D&D gaming (Arnesonian, Prof. MAR Barker, Bob Meyer, Chirine baKal, etc).
If you'd like to chat and create with us: https://discord.gg/njtEJRc

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Convert your D&D monster to The Dark Eye (Das Schwarze Auge) 1e

I've written a longish excel table comparing BX/E (Cyclopedia) character classes to Das Schwarze Auge/The Dark Eye first edition classes. If you're interested, click here.

Bottom line: Multiply your monster's HD by roughly 6 (or 6.3 if you want to nitpick), and you get the amount of "Lebensenergie" (life energy, life points) for DSA games.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

One class, four OSR games: the Yogi for Whitehack, The Black Hack, Macciato Monsters and Into the Odd

Today, let's talk about the Yogi as character class. Because, you know, I practice yoga, and I love the OSR. I'm using bullete's version for this experiment.

First, a write-up of the yogi's abilities that I find interesting in close to reality:

  • ahimsa (nonviolence) practice is key
  • focus on own willpower rather than on supernatural beings
  • must be lawful
  • may never possess more than what they can carry on their person
  • avoid contact with precious metals or jewelry
  • no use of magic items
  • no use of weapons
  • no armor
  • yogi spells are called "siddhis" ("powers"). Choose only nonviolent spells: The following siddhis may be chosen: All cleric spells except spells against Law and the following: Hold Person, Sticks to Snakes, Insect Plague, Quest, and Raise Dead. Magic user spells: Read Languages, Detect Invisibility, Knock, ESP, Levitate, Darkvision, Fly, Protection from Normal Missiles, Water Breathing, Wizard Eye, Contact Other Plane, Passwall, Telekinesis, Teleport, and Anti-Magic Shell.
  • 3rd level:  Simulate Death, lowering his heart beat and body temperature, and appearing not to breathe. This state can be maintained for d6 turns per level, once per day.
  • Saving Throw: Yogis receive a +3 bonus on saving throws vs. poison and paralysis.
  • Obtain devotees: At ninth level, the Yogi will attract a large number of loyal followers who will swear fealty to the character and wish to do good deeds in his or her name.




Let's play with Whitehack first:

Is the yogi deft, strong or wise?

I'd argue a yogi is, first and foremost, a Wise Yogi. This also gives him the ability to "use siddhis" (cast spells). So, a Wise Yogi it is.

On level 1, Wise characters have: 1d6+1 HD, Attack Value (roll on or under) 10, Saving Throw 6, 2 Slots (special abilities, one active, the other one inactive), and belong to two Groups.

Let's do this:

Mahadev, level 1 Wise Yogi
Str 7 (Truly Lawful), Dex 10, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 12 (Yogi), Cha 7; Saving Throw 6 (9 vs. poison/paralysis), HP 6, AC 0, Attack Value 10, Siddhis: "Eternal Peace" (active)/"Joyous Freedom" (inactive); Common tongue; loincloth, skull cup, small bag of bhang

If you're wondering what the remarks behind Strength and Wisdom (in parantheses) mean: Those are the yogi's "groups" (affiliation and vocation). Whenever a Str or Wis save is in order and the group is appropriate for the task, the save is rolled with advantage.

Supernatural powers in WH are freeform and powered by hit points; each time one is used, the player specifies how exactly he wants to interpret it at this moment. Then, DM and player negotiate the price in hp.

If the WH yogi had to defend himself physically, he would try to roll on or under his Attack Value, but over the opponent's Armor Class. Successful roll means: inflict unarmed damage (1 point). If the opponent attacked him, the DM would try to roll the d20 on or under the opponent's Attack Value (HD+10)




Now, The Black Hack (1e):

A long time ago, I converted the Yogi class to TBH:


Starting HP: d4 + 4
HP Per Level/Resting: 1d4
Weapons & Armor: no weapons and shields at all, yogis practice ahimsa (non-violence) 

Attack Damage: 1d4 / 1 point Unarmed or Improvising
Ahimsa Die: Levels 1-2: 1d4; levels 3-8: 1d6; levels 9-10: 1d8

The Ahimsa Die is a Usage Die that tracks the non-violent behavior of the Yogi. Patience is a virtue, but it‘s also hard work. When the Yogi runs out of patience, he loses his special powers for that day. More on that in the following paragraph.
Siddhi Points: Level+2; cast spells of any level. Casting a successful spell requires a WIS check as per TBH rules. Spells don’t work automatically, you have to pass the check. On a failed roll, it costs Siddhi Points to cast the spell (cost  = spell level). On a successful roll, you cast the spell for free. 



SPECIAL FEATURES
Non-violence: (ahimsa): Yogis must begin as lawful in alignment and remain so or else lose the special powers given to them. Also, if they use violence „in word, thought or action“, they roll their Ahimsa Die. If the die comes up a 1 or 2, reduce it by one step, as usual. If the Ahimsa Die is a d4 and is reduced further, the Yogi loses all their siddhis (spells) for that day. After sunrise and a meditation that lasts (Exyperience Level) hours, the Ahimsa Die is „re-charged“ again. Yes, that‘s right, the higher up you get in Yoga, the longer it takes to recover from lapses.
Possessions: Yogis are severely limited in the amount of possessions they may have - they may never possess more than what they can carry on their person, they avoid contact with gold or jewelry, and may not carry more than the equivalent of 1 coin worth of other types of treasure. They may not use magic items.
Spell casting: A Yogi gains siddhis, or supernatural, mental powers which correspond to some cleric and magic user spells. In order to obtain these, the yogi must spend one hour in meditation per spell, per day.
In addition, at 3rd level the Yogi may Simulate Death, lowering his heart beat and body temperature, and appearing not to breathe. This state can be maintained for d6 minutes per level, once per day.
Saving Throw: Yogis receive a +3 bonus on saving throws vs. poison and paralysis.
Charisma Bonus: At 2nd level and every level thereafter, Yogis automatically add 1 point to their

charisma score, up to a maximum score of 20.
Obtain devotees: At ninth level, the Yogi will attract a large number of loyal followers who will swear fealty to the character and wish to do good deeds in his or her name.
SIDDHIS
The following siddhis may be chosen:
All cleric spells except spells against Law and the following: Hold Person, Quest, and Raise Dead. • Magic user spells: Read Languages, Knock, Levitate, Darkvision, Telekinesis, Teleport 

The TBH Yogi looks like this:

Mahadev, level 1 Yogi
Str 7, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 7; HP 10, damage: d4/1, Ahimsa Die: 1d4; Siddhi Points: 3, loincloth, skull cup, small bag of bhang

If the TBH yogi had to defend himself physically, he would try to roll on or under his Strength. Successful roll means: inflict unarmed damage (1 point). If the opponent attacked him, the player would try to make a STR save, or (house rule) the DM would try to roll on or over the yogi's Str, or simply roll higher than the yogi.





Macchiato Monsters

Macchiato Monsters takes inspiration from The Black Hack and Whitehack, as the name implies.

  • In MM, you first roll the stats: we have already done that.
  • Then, you invent a Trait (origins, factions, occupations, race): Yogi. Whenever the trait is relevant, roll with advantage.
  • Now, record your hit die; this always starts with a d6.
  • Now, pick two: add a d6 to a low stat, write down another trait, add another hit die, martial training (step up your hit dice), specialist training (a daily special ability), or magic training (come up with two freeform spells, essentially like Whitehack) –
  • First pick: specialist training ("Simulate Death", as described in the ability list in the beginning of this blog post: The yogi is lowering his heart beat and body temperature, and appears not to breathe. This state can be maintained for d6 turns per level, once per day)
  • Second pick: magic training – the siddhis are: "Eternal Peace" and "Joyous Freedom"

The MM Yogi looks like this:

Mahadev, level 1 Yogi
Trait: Yogi, Str 7, Dex 10, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 12, Cha 7; HP 6, no armor, no weapons, Siddhis: "Eternal Peace" and Joyous Freedom", loincloth, skull cup, small bag of bhang

If the yogi had to defend himself physically, he would try to roll on or under his Str. Successful roll means: roll damage (2d4, take lower). If the yogi rolled higher, that would mean the opponent hit him.



Into the Odd

Into the Odd is the enfant terrible in the OSR scene. No because it's not behaving well (author Chris McDowall is one of the nicest guys I know online), but because it's breaking traditions deliberately. As a result, ItO is not only very slim, but it plays lightning fast.

So let's try to fit the original class into ItO.

First of all, stats: only three of them: Str, Dex und Cha.
HP: 1d6, further damage is subtracted from Str; If Str=0 then dead
There are no classes in ItO, but at the moment, more and more people are creating them, anyway (even Chris himself)
Spells are either spell items or skills. For the yogi, it has to be skills.

So, the ItO Yogi:

Reach Eternal Peaceful Liberation by unmasking not-reality as illusion. Do this by practicing non-violent (ahimsa) and introspective methods. If you reach Level 5 without harming anyone on purpose, you reach Moksha (liberation) and can rest, finally.

Choose something that disturbs your peacefulness.
  1. Cruelty against insects.
  2. Cruelty against animals.
  3. Cruelty against human beings.
  4. Injustice.
  5. Loud children.
  6. Busy marketplaces.


UPGRADES
Start with 1.
Take 1 when you:
  • lived an entire month in the world ("in the marketplace"), in ahimsa
  • stayed peaceful in the middle of raging violence


  1. Move Immovable Objects: You can persuade small doors and walls to move.
  2. Create gems: You can create gemstones out of thin air.
  3. No pain: You feel no pain. Critical injuries don't exist for you. You keep moving and standing till you die with Str 0. 
  4. Come closer, Beloved One: You can move the sun closer to you or farther away from you.

The ItO Yogi looks like this:

Mahadev, level 1 Yogi
Yogi, Str 7, Dex 10, Cha 7; HP 6, no armor, no weapons, Siddhis: "Eternal Peace" and Joyous Freedom", loincloth, skull cup, small bag of bhang

If the yogi had to defend himself physically, he would simply roll 1d4 for damage (no to-hit roll). The opponent would do the same.










Sunday, July 26, 2020

Landshut Rules: Alternative combat rules, explained as Troika! combat

The 4th edition of my Landshut Rules have been available for free download for a couple of days now. One of the biggest changes were the "alternative combat rules":



 This is free kriegsspiel in its purest form. Let's take a closer look:

"Use common sense and do not roll dice to attack."

For many roleplayers, this is heresy. After all, part of the fun is rolling dice, right? Yes, indeed. But still, playing free kriegsspiel-style is interesting because it forces players to act tactically in combat. All-out attacks are rarely a sensible thing to do, except when you find yourself in a vastly superior position.

"Damage is dealt without rolling against each other"

Now we're talking. So, we have decided to not roll to hit – but we can, of course (if we want to) roll for damage. This brings back a degree of uncertainty, and I like that.

"(damage) happens simultaneously – the referee judges the players’ narration and interprets it accordingly and fairly."

Now this is interesting. Instead of rolling initiative or drawing cards, narration decides who hits when, but all damage happens in one "round". Last man standing.

Of course, if you want to keep initiative rolls, you can always do that.
For Troika! combat, keeping the initiative cards is key!


How do I incorporate this rule in my Troika! games?

Let's say there is a Troika! Chaos Champion (Skill 6, Stamina 20, 3 Maul Fighting) fighting against a Man-Beast (Skill 8, Stamina 11, Armor 1, Modest Beast damage)

Turn 1: I draw Chaos Champion's card. He hits with damage 1 (rolled a 2 on the damage table, but Man-Beast's armor reduces it to 1). Man-Beast's STA is now 10.

Turn 2: It's Man-Beast's turn. It rolls a 2 on the damage table: 6. Chaos Champion now has STA 14.

Turn 3: End of Round.

Turn 4: Man-Beast hits with 4 points damage. Chaos Champion now has STA 10. Man-Beast has 10, as well.

Turn 5: End of Round

Turn 6: Chaos Champion hits with 3 damage. Man-Beast is down to STA 7.

Turn 7: Chaos Champion again, with 2 damage. Man-Beast is now at ST 5.

Turn 8: Man-Beast hits with 8 damage. Chaos Champion now has STA 2 left.

Turn 9: Man-Beast hits again, with 6 points damage. Chaos Champion is dead.


What would I do if the involved parties have a huge Skill disparity?

Simple enough. I'd roll the Luck Die, and adjust the rolls according to the skill gap between the combatants. For instance:

An unlucky Thaumaturge (Skill 4, Stamina 20, no fighting skill, with a sword) fighting against a Man-Beast (Skill 8, Stamina 11, Armor 1, Modest Beast damage). My ruling would be: there's a 4 in 6 chance that the Thaumaturge really hits when his initiative card is drawn.

Let's shuffle the cards and go!

Turn 1: Man-Beast hits with 8. Thaumaturge's STA is now 12.

Turn 2: Thaumaturge's card turns up, I roll a 3: yes, he hits! 4 damage. Man-Beast's STA is down to 7.

Turn 3: Man-Beast hits with 8 again. Thaumaturge's STA is 4.

Turn 4: End of Round.

Turn 5: Thaumaturge hits (rolled 3) with 6 damage. Man-Beast now has STA 1 left.

Turn 6: Man-Beast hits with 8. Thaumaturge now has STA 4.

Turn 7: Thaumaturge MISSES (rolled a 5).

Turn 8: Man-Beast hits again, with 6 damage. Thaumaturge is dead.





Minipirates, MoldHammer version

So, minipirates. But for MoldHammer


Skills:
Seamanship, Bragging, Intuitive Astrology (base 1 in 6 chance, +1 each for helpful attribute, relevant knowledge, GM feeling generous, using an appropriate tool, using the area to your advantage)

To-hit: 10
Armor: 10 (damn hard to hit)
Damage:   against very small opponents, 0 against opponents bigger than a hummingbird

Minipirates

Oh yes.
After all that philosophizing and meta-plane-drifting, I think it's time for me to return to something… shall we say, tangible. Or, weirdly tangible. Walter Moers is a fellow countryman of mine, and his Zamonia books have been translated in dozens of languages.

Zamonia is weird, and funny, and interesting, and sometimes, bloodthirsty. Perfect for roleplaying!
And a good fit for GLOG.

...but an even better fit for Troika!.

Thank the mighty gods that TheLawfulNeutral has already posted some really good material for Zamonian roleplaying.

Today, I'd like to introduce the Minipirate race-as-class for my Troika!/Landshut hack.







On genre assumptions and the vagaries of fate, or: Hit points, shit points



I have a strange relationship with hit points.
For "science fiction" games, I'm perfectly fine with "hits" and fixed damage: 1 hit does X amount of damage (usually 1, but this can go up to 4 for really terrifyingly potent weapons).
For fantasy games, though, I'd like to have hit points and variable damage (= dice).

After thinking long and hard about the reasons, and asking on the Bastionland discord, I thought I had come to a conclusion: probably I like hp/variable damage because for old school fantasy games, it's not that uncommon to fight against many opponents on any given day, while in scifi games, this is happening significantly less often (or not at all).

Hm.

Not quite. What I'm thinking now is that I just like the uncertainty of variable damage; one blow might knock me down, or barely scratch me. THAT'S what I'm after. THAT'S what my more than 30 year-long experience as full-contact martial artist tells me.THAT'S also what I want, within limits, to have in my games.

Still, introducing damage rolls in my game is nothing I seriously consider. What I'm looking for is

  • The uncertainty of combat: My attack might miss or glance off the opponent. I don't want autohits.
  • The uncertainty of resilience: One blow might be sufficient to knock me out good. I don't want fixed damage, or better: I don't want fixed damage all the way through.

Unknowingly, I already had the solution to this when I wrote the Into the Odd hack for my Landshut Rules.

Time to recap.

  1. Your character has X amount of hits. Usually, in the Landshut Rules, this is 4, but you can also roll a d6 if you're feeling lucky (punk).
  2. Each successful attack reduces your hits by 1 or more points – this is something the referee and the players agree on before the game starts.
  3. If your character has run out of hits, any further damage might become critical: To avoid being critically injured (and unable to move, possibly dying), roll 2d6 vs the referee's 2d6.The ref might grant you a bonus to the roll. If you roll higher, your character has avoided a critical injury: write down the damage, anyway. If you roll lower than the ref, your character is knocked down and is critically injured. The ref determines how long it will take to heal up. For heroic fantasy: If your character ever reaches Level+4 negative Hit Protection, s/he dies. For harsher games: reduce that number.
So there. I'll be using this in my next game.
I'll keep you posted.